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Plight of a migrant labourer

Bright summer morning

The sun at the day’s behest,

Walking a silent path

Without knowing rest.

Might sound like a perfect poem

In a romanticized light,

But to see it during the lockdown

You might get a torn, wearied man’s sight.

With a sack on the head and one around the shoulder

Here comes a home atop its beholder,

With some food or none, it hardly mattered

For with the thought of joblessness his world lay shattered.

‘Sahib’ I said, ‘where do you plan to go?’

He smiled a scorn and uttered ‘Why’d you want to know?’

‘I am just concerned’, I said in a voice of plainful delight,

‘Babu’, he said ‘no one can ever be concerned of a worker’s plight.’

‘Why would you say that?’ I ushered in a sympathetic note of scorn,

‘I heard about migrant schemes when I switched the TV this morn.’

He smiled again, sniffed a little, his eyes still lacking a shine,

‘I wish’, he whispered, ‘ these schemes could satisfy the need of mine’

‘What is it that you need’, I said at once thinking greed to be his behest,

‘All I need, babu, is a workful wage, a day’s meal and an hour of rest.’

I shuddered at the thought, for a moment, reality was out of my sight

When he suddenly turned to show his back,

As if having something to hide.

He started to walk with steps apace, striding the path along,

When I ran behind him to pat his shoulder to know what had went wrong.

And suddenly he turned around and his wrinkled face had shown under the sun’s light,

And that moment was when I saw what he had hid from my sight.

Hunger, thirst, homelessness, unemployment, all was suddenly visible to me,

But none to concrete, all consolidated under a teary plea.

I let him trod his path, I did not hinter his course anymore,

For I knew he will have to walk endlessly for shelter, food and a chore.

I know, he may fall midway, I know, he might encounter death,

But I can pretend it is normal for any man to face such wreath

For pretending is a way of life, pretending is so easy, you see,

So why not pretend a normalcy and fill life with an ignorant glee.

Realizing the reality requires understanding of pain, death and might

But it is easier to live in ignorance and pretend a success to oversee

A migrant labourer’s plight.

By Prathit Singh

Prathit Singh is a young activist and a poet from Kolkata. He takes an active interest in debates and discussions and is motivated to work for a social cause. He has undue faith in the power of words and believes in vocalizing his thoughts and ideas in order to propagate awareness in society and bring about a change. His quest for change has driven him to inter-governmental forums to vocalize for a better and just society. Besides activism, he also takes a deep interest in poetry and has published several poems reflecting his ideas on several social issues. He aspires to contribute a step forward to an inclusive, just and peaceful society not only through his actions but also through his words.

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